Sunday, July 10, 2016

Non resisting non belief does not disprove God:My answer to Shallenberg

 photo chess-with-death-ii-300x216_zps7ckqdhik.jpg
The Knight (Max Von Sydow) plays chess with death
Igmar Berman's The Seventh Seal (greatest
film evervmade).





J.L. Schellenberg argues that the presence of non resisting unbelievers disproves God.The basic concept is that if there are such non-resisting non -believers surly God would reveal himself to them because if God is all loving God would want a relationship with them.

So where can we go from there? Well, an argument can be developed for supposing that nonresistant nonbelief would not exist if there were a God. Let me set out the argument as clearly as possible, and then we can discuss its nature and its force.
  1. If there is a perfectly loving God, all creatures capable of explicit and positively meaningful relationship with God who have not freely shut themselves off from God are in a position to participate in such relationships--i.e., able to do so just by trying to.
  2. No one can be in a position to participate in such relationships without believing that God exists.
  3. If there is a perfectly loving God, all creatures capable of explicit and positively meaningful relationship with God who have not freely shut themselves off from God believe that God exists (from 1 and 2).
  4. It is not the case that all creatures capable of explicit and positively meaningful relationship with God who have not freely shut themselves off from God believe that God exists: there is nonresistant nonbelief; God is hidden.
  5. It is not the case that there is a perfectly loving God (from 3 and 4).
  6. If God exists, God is perfectly loving.
  7. It is not the case that God exists (from 5 and 6).[1]

He draws analogy to human relationships. After all what other means do we have it understand love but our relationships with those we love?

I am suggesting is that there is something remarkably odd about the idea that, supposing there really is a God whose love is unsurpassed perfect, such creatures should ever be unable to exercise their capacity for relationship with God--at least so long as they have not got themselves into that position through resisting the divine in the manner earlier indicated. What sense can we make of the idea that capable creatures should be open to relationship with a perfectly loving God, not resisting it at all, perhaps even longing for it, and yet not in a place where they can have such a relationship, if there really is a perfectly loving God? I suggest that if we look carefully at the matter, we will not be able to make any sense of that at all. A perfectly loving God--if those words mean anything--would, like the best human lover, ensure that meaningful contact with herself was always possible for those she loved.
Notice how our everyday use of the language of love pushes us in this direction. The perfectly loving mother or husband or brother or friend will see to it that nothing he or she does ever puts relationship out of reach for the loved one.

I have three basic arguments, but first I am going to grant that there are non resisting unbelievers.I don't really believe there are and I don't believe it can be proved. He has no crystal ball we cannot look upon the hearty as God does. "All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." Rationalizing what we do and our own nobility is one of the things Humans do best. Making such an argument is perhaps an act of resisting in and of itself. Yet I will grant for the sake of argument and take on the argument on it's own terms. Toward that end grant for argument sake there are non resisting unbelievers, I still have three responses:

(1) Human relationships are only analogy

Through our own experience  loving and being loved we have a notion of what love is. Yet we do not have a perfect notion, we have no example of perfect love save that of Christ dying on the cross. Humans do not love each other perfectly. Some times human love is standoffish we don't always act on our feelings for others. In that sense we might conclude  that God doesn't care, but that's only because we are comparing God's love to imperfect human love. The comparison of God's love to human love is only a metaphor anyway. There is no 1x1 correspondence to the effect that's God's agape should be perfectly analogous to human philos.

Human relationships are only analogous to God's love, all analogy has a"not-like" was well as a "like" dimension. Jesus himself provides the perfect role model for God's love. Using Jesus as the model God.s love is not always self explanatory. I'll deal with the issue of God's hidden presence in point three. But for now suffice to say God's love is not always obvious that doesn't mean it is occulted or absent.


(2) Either the non resisting phase, or the non believing phase, may be temporary. 

Assuming that there are unresistant unbelievers, that does't mean they stay that way There can be times in a person's life when they are non resisting and open to God but don't find the signs stacking up in such a way that that they would find God.There will come a point at which they will either find God or begin to resist. Which to say they found God but for some reason don't want to find God. The factors in tracing that out would be enormously complex, they would different from case to case. Trying to pin down an exact profile of belief would be like profiling snowflakes. Because this argument does involve soteriological issues it takes us into point 3. But before going there I have to deal with one other issue.

The temporal answer is only a stopgap solution. The skeptic can still raise the point why doesn't God make his move, so to speak, in that short time when the unbeliever is open and not resisting? To say that the non believer begins resisting at that point is really a problem because that would indicate that he wasn't open after all. But to answer that we should have to know the complex variables that make for decision making in this area, we can't really know that. Given that caveat I think Jesus gave us a hint in the parable of the sower (Mark 4: 1-19).

The seed is the world and the type of soil or other problems that prevent the seed taking root represent things that can happen that might separate one from belief. Those include symbols for riches and cares of they world for example. None of these people are throwing away the seeds,so in that sense they are non resisters.  The seeds are taken by weeds, thrones, birds. The seeds are spread and fall where they may, then they are intercepted or negated in some way, now of course question arises why does God not prevent this? Surely if Love of God means anything he should get through to those who are not resisting him, even if the message is negated. I think he does, that is a theological issue and thus leads us to point three.

(3) God's love is not hidden but it is prehended

This point breaks down into three major issues all three of them theological. These are prhension,  salvation and theodicy, It's a theological issue because it draws upon core of theology proper, faith seeking understanding (in the classical model). The prehension issue deals with the nature of our understanding of God and it answers P2 in Shallenberg's argumemt: No one can be in a position to participate in such relationships without believing that God exists. That depends upon what relationship we are talking about. No one is going to be a great lion of God and not know it, One will not be Kierkegaard's knight of faith and not know it. One might be saved and not know it,one is being communicated to by 'God and most people don't  know it,. God is communicating through prehension: 

a. prehension


Through Whitehead's category of prehension, the nonsensory sympathetic perception of antecedent experiences, we are able to reduce several apparently very different types of relations to one fundamental type of relation. [It] explains not only memory and perception, . . . but also temporality, space, causality, enduring individuality (or substance), the mind-body relation, the subject-object relation in general, and the God-world relation. [2]
But this is at an unconscious level. However, in some people, this direct prehension of the "Holy" rises to the level of conscious experience. We generally call theses people "mystics". Now, the reason why a few people are conscious of God is not the result of God violating causal principle; some people are just able to conform to God's initial datum in greater degree than other people can. I don't kno why God seems to chose to make his presence known to some and not others But I accept that the basis of mystical experience is real,discernible, noetic and from God. I do think God is putting this out to everyone and some have a greater capacity for receiving it than others, In place of resisting God I find a lot of people want their own way, they want God to do it their way, to that extent they are not content with God's choices for them.That amounts to resisting while not resisting per se.
The experience of no one single witness is final the "the proof" but the fact that there are millions of witnesses who, in differing levels from the generally intuitive to the mystical, experience must the same thing in terms of general religious belief the argument is simply that God interacts on a human heart level, and the experiences of those who witness such interaction is strong evidence for that conclusion.

b. Salvation

If God is always speaking to us all why are we not all Christians? Because we are getting it at an instinctive or subliminal level and to understand it we have to formulate ideas based upon the impressions. Ideas have to be formed in language and thus they must be filtered through cultural constructs. That's why faiths appear so different. That's why they  reflect their cultures. Jesus was not a cultural construct he was a real guy with a history so he was the person he was and he was adapted to the culture of his day.

Christians believe that Jesus is necessary to salvation,I believe this. But it is not necessarily the case that one must know this to be saved. If one is saved it is Jesus who does the saving. it is not necessarily the case that only people who know this are saved. Since this is a theological issue we turn to the theology of St. Paul for an answer. On Mars Hill he told the Greek philosophers they knew God. He told them he came to proclaim to them what they already knew.
26 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’[a] As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’[3]
Of course we laugh at the primitive naivete of this statement.There is a deeper meaning under there, that God is interacting with people of all cultures and that different cultures are not boundaries for belief but that God is Interconnecting with each one. God is near to us all he's drawing us all. Are all saved? Paul indicates that all have the moral law written upon the heart and if we are true to that moral law we may be saved:

God “will repay each person according to what they have done.”[a]To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile;10 but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 11 For God does not show favoritism.
12 All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.14 (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law.[4]
This is not an argument that one can cease seeking or that we don't need Jesus. Jesus is truth we should keep the whole truth, We don't need to feel that those not in the Christian club are necessarily going to t to hell. The good news is we can turn to Jesus and know God this is not negated by the bad news that 60% of the world is going to hell.[5]


c. theodisy 

But then why does the truth of God seem so not obvious? It's not hidden but it's  not conspicuous.If God wished to get everyone signed up he could hold a press conference the UN building and tell the world. Obviousness there is meant to be a level of seeking.


Let's assume that God's purpose in creation is to create a Moral Universe, that is one in which free moral agents willingly choose the Good. Moral choice requires absolutely that choice be free (thus free will is necessitated). Allowance of free choices requires the risk that the chooser will make evil choices.  The possibility of evil choices is a risk God must run, thus the value of free will outweighs all other considerations, since without it there would be no moral universe and the purpose of creation would be thwarted.This leaves the atheist in the position of demanding to know why God doesn't just tell everyone that he's there, and that he requires moral behavior, and what that entails. Thus there would be no mystery and people would be much less inclined to sin.This is the point where Soteriological Drama figures into it. Argument on Soteriological Drama: No one would seek in the heart. If God was obvious in this way we would all give lip service to it and resent it. Only through searching that one internalizes the values of the search and thus loves having found. Jesus said "he who has been forgiven much loves much."


Life is a "Drama" not for the sake of entertainment, but in the sense that a dramatic tension exists between our ordinary observations of life on a daily basis, and the ultimate goals, ends and purposes for which we are on this earth.Clearly God wants us to seek on a level other than the obvious, daily, demonstrative level or he would have made the situation more plain to us. We can assume that the reason for the "big mystery" is the internalization of choices. If God appeared to the world in open objective fashion and laid down the rules, we would probably all try to follow them, but we would not want to follow them. Thus our obedience would be lip service and not from the heart. Therefore, God wants a heart felt response which is internationalized value system that comes through the search for existential answers; that search is phenomenological; introspective, internal, not amenable to ordinary demonstrative evidence.

This explains why God is not obvious even though he's not exactly hidden. No one who is seeking and not resisting is turned out or condemned even if they don't wind up in the Christian club.






Sources

[1] J.L. Schellenberg, "What Divine Hiddenness Reveals, or How Weak Theistic Evidence is Strong Atheistic Proof," The Secular Web  (2008) on line resource, URL:
http://infidels.org/library/modern/john_schellenberg/hidden.html  acessed 6/20/16

[2] David Ray Griffin, "Charles Hartshorne," in David Ray Griffin, John B. Cobb, Jr., Marcus P. Ford, Pete A. Y. Gunter, and Peter Ochs, Founders of Constructive Postmodern Philosophy: Peirce, James, Bergson, Whitehead, and Hartshorne (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1993), p. 209. Griffin's writing in this book is quoted extensively in"Charles Hartshorne's Psychicalism".


Quohttp://ppquimby.com/alan/prehen.htm


[3] New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 byBiblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Read my essay "Why I don't beleive in Hell"
http://religiousapriori.blogspot.com/2013/08/does-bible-really-teach-that-hell-is.html



6 comments:

Eric Sotnak said...

So which premises of the argument do you think are false?

Joe Hinman said...

2 and 3

Joe Hinman said...

of course also 7

Eric Sotnak said...

Since 3 and 7 are deductively inferred premises, that leaves 2: "No one can be in a position to participate in such relationships without believing that God exists."

Hmm.. So you think one can participate in an "explicit and positively meaningful relationship with God" without believing that God exists?

A lot depends on what we count as an "explicit and positively meaningful relationship". I think it is stretching things quite a bit to suggest that mystical experience or Kierkegaardian faith fits Shellenberg's understanding of "explicit".

Given a suitable account of what might count as "faith" one may wonder whether or not it could make sense to say that one could be an atheist and still have faith in God. That is, that it could be meaningful to assert, "I don't believe that God exists, but I have faith that he does" or even "I believe that God doesn't exist, but I nevertheless have faith that he does." I think there is a way of reading SK that would permit this, and given some of the things you've said both here and elsewhere, I wonder whether your views might allow for it as well.

Joe Hinman said...

Hmm.. So you think one can participate in an "explicit and positively meaningful relationship with God" without believing that God exists?

A lot depends on what we count as an "explicit and positively meaningful relationship". I think it is stretching things quite a bit to suggest that mystical experience or Kierkegaardian faith fits Shellenberg's understanding of "explicit".

that passage in Romans says when gentiele not born under thye law edo whiat thie law requires they follow the moral law placed upon the heart, ..their heartsm ay excuse them

Joe Hinman said...

one may wonder whether or not it could make sense to say that one could be an atheist and still have faith in God.


see Tom Joad's goodbye to his mother in Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath that's as clopse tp an vatheist affirming God as I can see.